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Teala's Wickedly Cool Blog For The Masses

Just my thoughts on MMO's, roleplaying, game companies, and the people that play these games.

Author: Teala

Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games = Stagnating Genre?

Posted by Teala Thursday July 14 2011 at 10:57AM
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It is becoming harder and harder to write about something I truly care about.  Everytime I sit down to start writing up a new entry for this blog I get maybe half way through it then stop.   I go get a cup of coffee or tea, come back, and read what I wrote...and I suddenly feel as if I am wasting my time.   For years(over ten to be exact), I have written about this genre, the good, the bad and the ugly.   In that time I have seen my share of “good” MMORPG’s go to waste(get neglected and left to rot) or mis-managed by the people that run it.  Dark Age of Camelot is one such game, it could have been improved, and it could have continued to be a game that people loved to play: same for Planetside, same for Vanguard, same for Asheron’s Call(original version).  Anyone for Star Wars Galaxies pre-NGE?   All these games could have been much more and yet here we are years later and instead of the games getting better - which they should have - they have only gotten worse.  Either through neglect, poor mis-management, or outright bungling of the game via overhauls, changes, or revamping of game play mechanics.   So many good games that could have been - great.

But I digress, I write, and I write, and I write, about this awesome gaming genre.   There are times when I think I have something really good to say, so I write down my thoughts, read what I wrote, then click *delete*. that read my blog have no ideal how much effort and time I put into writing one of these entries.   Sometimes an ideal comes to my mind in a flash of inspiration from something I have read, or seen, or experienced - this is rare.   Most times I have to come up with something that I think others might find interesting, and that is becoming harder and harder to do.  People like me have written tons of blog entries, articles, previews and reviews about this genre, and I can’t help but think that like the games we write about, we’re falling into the same trap and just start regurgitating things we’ve said before - just a little differently.    I bet if you go back through stuff I have written here, and other gaming websites, you’ll see that I am guilty of it.   I mean how many times can we produce articles about what IP would make for a great MMORPG for example?  

Speaking of that I still think Harry Potter series would make a great MMORPG, as would Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom Chronicles and the old anime Robotech.   

Nothing has changed...I still feel the same way.   

I have written and deleted so much stuff, that if I hadn’t deleted it I would have enough material to post to my blog once a week for five years easily.   Why delete it?  Because sometimes I cannot bring myself to post garbage, noise, meaningless drivel - sorta like this entry.  I have yet to barely touch on the subject of this blog entry, “Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games = Stagnating Genre?”,  maybe because like the genre I just cannot find anything worthwhile to say.   I mean if we look at games that are soon to be released(I am talking triple AAA games in NA/EU here) I am not excited at all.   After getting a chance to actually test play a certain IP in a distant heavenly body many, many lightyears away, I can with all certainty say, “This is not the game I was looking for.”   It really opened my eyes to see that this genre is not has stagnated and I do not think we’ll ever see a “Golden Age of MMORPG’s”, I think that time has come and gone all ready.   I think we’ve seen the best we’re ever going to see and instead we’re going to just get rehashed MMOG’s(I dropped RP because these new games are not about role playing anymore) that are shallow, non-innovative, world-less, glorified single/co-op player, online arcade games.

Just look at all the recent trainwrecks like FFXIV, Warhammer, Aion, and a couple of games I’ll not mention due to players that cannot stand their game being criticized.  We’ve seen them before, played them before and because of that we continue to wait for this genre to start moving again.

I am not going to blame Blizzard for this mess that this genre has become as so many like to do.  Nope.  This genre is not stagnating because of Blizzard, it is stagnating because other developers, publishers, and investors refuse to take a risk.   They wish to play it safe and try to follow a paradigm that worked for one game company(which was a fluke and due to special circumstances - many intelligent people know this) instead of being original, or different, or innovative.

Know what the saddest thing is though?  An older game, one that is pushing 8 years on in age, is actually trying to add more game play elements to their game.  Something that might give it new life, more game play options and open it up to the possibility that it can actually be more than what it is today(imagine that) and people are slamming the company for doing it.  I will not mention any names or what game it is, but the people that are slamming it are doing so simple for one reason and they cannot stand change(or refuse to upgrade their computers!) - even if the change is for the better, they do not care, they'd rather have the game go stale and stagnate like all the other neglected "good" old games that should and could be great today.  I applaud that game company for not being like other game companies.  For not giving up on their game.  For sticking with it, through thick and thin, and watch it grow and get better over time(and it has constantly) - thank you.   You should be the model other game companies follow.  You actually have a vision of where you want and see your game going and where it can bad the other game companies with older games do not.

I could be totally wrong here, and if I am, then tell me as much in the comments below.    But from what I have seen, read and experienced lately, with the new titles that are soon to be unleashed, I can honestly say that in my opinion this genre is stagnating and is not getting better, or improving, or bringing something totally new to the table - it is, like this blog entry - going nowhere.

Anolev writes:

Or maybe it's just not going in the direction that you personally want it to?... or quickly enough for you?


I think there have been plenty of recent games that have tried new things, but those things haven't caught on.  Warhammer introduced public quests... that was new... Rift introduced the souldshard system... that was new... GW2 is planning to introduce a truly dynamic world... very new... SW:TOR is going to give us immersive, story-driven, fully voiceacted roleplaying... something nobody else has ever done before.


I could go on of course, but those are the first 4 examples that jumped immediatley to mind.  I won't bother to comment on whether or not I liked (or will like) any of those evolutions, because that's simply a matter of personal opinion.


But the fact is that these are all gameplay elements and features that never existed before, and how the do (or will).  That's evolution, not stagnation.


Thu Jul 14 2011 12:46PM Report
Anolev writes:

Weird... you can't fix typos in a blog comment...?


Anyway, last paragraphs was supposed to read:

"But the fact is, that these are all gameplay elements and features that never existed before, and now they do (or will).  That's evolution, not stagnation."

Thu Jul 14 2011 12:49PM Report
Hycoo writes:

Thank God we have Funcom that risks and tries something new every time.

Thu Jul 14 2011 3:06PM Report
futnatus writes:

I think your opinion right there reflects the general opinion of the gamers on this site.

I have a curious question though, if we're the people not liking the games and commenting and reading here... Who the heck are the millions still playing these games?  They're right there right now, do they really have nothing better to do?  For Flipper's flippers sake!

There should be two movements taking place:

1 - Learning to do something else other than gaming.  Let's alll go learn martial arts and kill people.  Now that's exciting.

2 - Players taught programming and design skills that are employable by the massive companies that we want good games from.

Thu Jul 14 2011 5:08PM Report
Lateris writes:


I am at the same belt in the road. For me I see studios not progressing with technology in terms of making virtual worlds larger and more immersive. Who wants a loading screen to go to the surface of a planet?? I want to fly through the atmosphere! It makes me want to start a studio and call it Greensplat7!

I remember that feeling of logging in for the first time into Earth and Beyond, Eve Online, and SWG.  It was an amazing feeling of discovery.  For me now it’s my friendships that keep me gaming. I even accepted being the guild leader for my old SWG guild that will play TOR.
So for me I turned my attention to development, art, exercise, and more balance- which sucks because I love gaming! :) 
Thu Jul 14 2011 7:34PM Report
Rommie10-284 writes:

I was thinking about this earlier today when I was watching a Bugs Bunny short from the early '50s.  Animation in the US had a golden age in the 40s and 50s, and then stagnated into some truly horrible dreck in the 60s.  (I'm being general - there were bad cartoons in the 50s, there were good ones in the 60s)

I don't know if you can classify the first ten years of the MMOG era as a golden age, but it's dangerously close to entering a stagnation phase.  If TOR and GW2 flop, the only realistic hit left is Blizzard's secret project, and if that doesn't catch on...

Thu Jul 14 2011 10:05PM Report
Fozzik writes:

My blog has been sitting idle for quite some time for roughly the same reasons. I just look at the same stuff, and have nothing new to say.

Players don't really know what they want. Developers aren't really listening. Executives are trying to follow what they see as the safest and most sure-fire formula. In an environment like that, it's really no wonder that creativity and real innovation are sqeezed out.

I'm just sitting back, watching, and hoping. History tells me that these types of slumps tend to be temporary. Somebody is going to break through and yank the whole genre off its collective feet. I'll have my money and time set aside and ready when it happens.

The potential for this genre is so huge...I can't leave it after seeing how great some games were. I want to still be around to throw my full support behind the developer that finally "gets it", because I'm hoping one great game will lead to a flood of better games. It's like watching the sky on a stormy night for that one brilliant flash of lightning. I've got time, and it'll totally be worth the wait when it happens. If we turn away for a second, we might miss it...and this genre might just go away entirely.

Fri Jul 15 2011 10:14AM Report
Digna writes:

If you have nothing new to say, perhaps it's time to take a break from writing..or gaming? I am on the verge of doing so given the great mass of dust collecting MMOs that are piling up year after year. I keep hoping for that cherry high again but it doesn't happen. Some day, one day I'll drop out for a while and hopefully return refreshed.

Fri Jul 15 2011 1:15PM Report
Scalebane writes:

i took a break from all gaming, MMO's, single player games, console games...its all the same anymore.  I mean you can only spin a story so many ways before people just don't want anything to do with it anymore. 

Well i'm still on break from gaming, i'm outdoors a lot more nowadays, i still check this place once in awhile but everyday i don't play a game i think more and more i'm possibly fully done with gaming...kinda makes me sad that i just don't find any of it interesting anymore.

Fri Jul 15 2011 3:23PM Report
Scalebane writes:

sorry for all the "anymores" i get all dead brained when extremely tired..

Fri Jul 15 2011 3:25PM Report
Eladi writes:

MMO history:

High mechanics , low grapics,

medium grapics,medium mechanics,

high grapics,low mechanics

high grapics, medium mechanics,

next up: High graps and high mechanical systems

we are at the calm before the storm in terms of "dream"mmo's the next mayor downtimer will be when we get "real" vitural worlds but that will take a other 10 -20 years so for a while..relax and enjoy the good times before we start cursing again as elderly at the new generation vitural games ;)

Sun Jul 17 2011 3:24AM Report
friski writes:

It used to be MMORPG, now it has become MMOG. I am afraid you're wrong about MMORPG = Stagnant Genre, it is more like MMORPG = Endangered Genre.

Using an existing IP does not automatically make it MMORPG. If there is no RP, it is merely a glorified MMOG.

Sun Jul 17 2011 1:45PM Report
Siveria writes:

I agree with this, since world of warcraft and other devolopers have seen the success the mmorpg genre has turned into a sesspool of the exact same style of gameplay with nothing really new to it. Star Wars: ToR is one such game, sure its in space but its bascally yet another world of warcraft clone/wannabe just with a star wars skin. All I can say is all the people hyped up thinking its going to be "diffrent" are going to be sorely dissapointed. Will still sell a ton of boxes even if its a shit game due to Starwars and Bioware fanboys/girls.

SW:ToR is gonna be another rift, tons of servers and players, then once the free month is over, over 70% or so will quit due to lack of content and generally boring gameplay.

WoW was good at bringing mmorpg's to the masses, but as the Genre is now, I wish it stayed Niche, at least the mmorpgs back then had a new feeling since each for the most part offered diffrent gameplay, now a days? They all have a "I've play this game before" feeling which is just not good imo.

I was in the OB for rift, and I didn't end up buying it because it just felt to stale, new skin on the same WoW formula. I'll still try SW: ToR But I won't be expecting much at all, if it doesn't have a OB i'll wait for a trial, after the free month they'll prob be hurting for more players.

I'll never personally understand how people can get so hyped up over a game like SW: ToR and Rift when its bascally world of warcraft in a new skin.

Anyway I went way off topic but I agree with the subject here, the mmorpg market has stagnated, I'm desperatly waiting for a devoloper to try something totally new. Hopefully with meaningful endgame, WoW's endgame is pointless, raid for gear, get gear, then you sit there going Duhhh cuz there is nothing to use your new uber gear for. DAOC did it best before spellcrafting, you'd pve raid for the best gear, then go pvp with it, made the raiding meaningful, also the realm wide bonuses thanks to how many keeps you had in the RvR Frontiers was nice.

Sun Jul 17 2011 3:04PM Report
LydarSynn writes:

I think the post is right on. What is good, bad or great in MMOs is largely in the eye of the beholder. Current MMOs are all basically very simple kiddie games for the most part. They all share many features but the biggest one is the grade school (or lower) philosophy that no one can lose. IMO, there are enough of these games and it would be nice if developers made some games that dealt with more adult themes. Creating a world sim that included a realistic economy, tactical and strategic choices, meaningful politics etc.

Technology has come a long way since the first MMOs but sadly game design has not kept up.

Sun Jul 17 2011 5:00PM Report
Inktomi writes:

The word oversaturation comes to mind sometimes when I think of the MMORPG genre. It feels overcrowded and the new half-baked releases don't seem to stop. Every time I look around I see a new name with some anime looking character attached to it.

The VG industry has discovered what a wonderful cash-cow that MMO's turned out to be. A long development process  followed by a lot of hype that culminates into a world of dissapointment seems to be the norm. There are a few standouts in the crowd, not mentioning any names here either.

Unfortunately, the developement companies are always looking for the next new idea to throw money at, instead of making the investment in improving their already released games. This is one of the main reason why the industry is stagnating, the existing games, apart from a few, don't improve much. 

Sun Jul 17 2011 5:07PM Report
Morfeus641 writes:

if you're bored, maybe it's you and not the industry. You said it yourself---you've been at it for ten years now. You're so worn out by the MMORPG genre that you can't even be bothered to spell check or edit for grammar or punctuation. 

Many of us played in the UO/EQ/AO heydey and look back on it fondly with rose-colored glasses. But I think you're forgetting that we're the minority---most MMORPG players haven't played for 10+ years and haven't seen the industry recycle itself half a dozen times. There are HUNDREDS of MMORPGs now. They can't all be unique, special snowflakes. Even if you limit your argument to attempts at making AAA Western MMOs, the statement stands. 

Does that mean the genre's played out? No. It means you're played out. Maybe since you're now old enough to be thinking about PTA meetings and prostate exams, you should look to doing something new with your free time. After all, doing something over and over when it clearly does not work for you is the definition of insanity. 

Mon Jul 18 2011 11:02AM Report
BitJunkie writes:

Agreed: to ask a rhetorical question: how long would you play chess for?  How long would you play golf for 5hrs a day, every day?

The point is that every game that has been invented has a limited rule set, mechanics and challenge.  What you are asking, is for the game developers to understand your personal drivers and game play style and to continually keep reinventing the genre to stretch you.

Well, I no longer play with action men, and I no longer build model cars and spend hours painting them.  I also no longer spend hours raiding and grinding rep.  I know that I've moved on and I look for games that fit my lifestyle and constraints.

I don't want to be Peter Pan and I don't really think it's healthy for people to be living in MMOs for their entire life.  So maybe someone is actually doing you a favour - even if that means you have to find something else to write about.

Good luck in finding new direction: sounds like you need it.

Mon Jul 18 2011 1:18PM Report
KenFisher writes:

Great blog!

I keep hoping that the genre will improve.  Instead it seems to keep getting worse.

Of recent releases, I applaud Trion for producing a non-bugfest, reasonably complete game, perhaps the first in a long while.  I think it was good for the industry that this happened, at least that it proves that it is still possible to do so.

Other than that, the best I can say is that I'm not impressed.  I know some are hopeful for 2011 releases, but frankly all I see is more of the same.

Overall I think the MMO industry has peaked in terms of population.  By now we should have at least three major games with 5 million+ populations.  Without growth there cannot be innovation, and without innovation there cannot be growth.  Sounds like stagnation to me.

Tue Jul 19 2011 12:01AM Report
Dewaholic86 writes:

Sadly you're right, far to many of the games coming out are wow remakes. The ones that are stepping outside of the box and seem to be doing something new are under funded and full of bugs, leading to there demise.

I cant wait for a mmog (dosnt even have to have rp) to come out that has something new to it. Sadly from the looks of things, the genre is going to have to crash to bring about something new from the ashe's.

Its all about the money, instead of taking the risk on new, there going with safe.

How about a complex game not designed for children for a change? Honestly there's a large enough player base of 20+ people (also they tend to have jobs) that are sick of the cute anime wow remakes to make one work.

Wed Jul 20 2011 1:41AM Report
Paragus1 writes:

Same boat here.   I've just accepted it and either write less often, or talk about other non-MMO related happenings occupying my time.  Been playing League of Legends for the last year and it's been the longest my guild has stayed on a single game in the last decade probably.

Wed Jul 20 2011 1:03PM Report
gothmog56 writes:

the last mmorpg that i really enjoyed playing was everquest. it was fun,it was enjoyable,it was great. wow was not fun,wow was work,wow had bad gameplay. i've tried the free one's and they have to many farmers and gold sellers,you have to buy stuff from the store to get anywhere.i like 3 kingdoms till i found out it was a pvp and you had no choice.its not that its stagnant,its that they are not original.

Wed Jul 20 2011 9:00PM Report
azmundai writes:

The simple fact of the matter is that game companies should not listen to the public. Many claim they don't but if you read their forums and follow their advancement you see all the things cried about in the game. Just look at Warcraft. I played that game almost non stop into the first tier of Cataclysm. I suffered WOTLK because .. I guess because I loved my characters.

To be honest with myself I stopped enjoying the game around the 100th time we wiped on sprinkler boy in SSC because the welfare game had come into full effect right around that time and you couldn't help but be surrounded by people in better gear than you, that had no damn clue what the hell they were doing .. and no interest in figuring it out either because they knew the next round of welfare epics would be out soon.

I was never the best of the best. Never even entered Naxx in vanilla .. but was getting close. Never cared about being the best .. never cared that the people around me werent the best .. but having to lead a guild of people that didn't even try .. was just about the end of me.

Im still trying to play vanguard. It's hard though .. theres simply no one around .. and I loath solo questing. I mean I do it when expansions come out or w/e and its 4am and not many people are around .. but gimme group content and im happy which is why vanguard is so awesome .. for those 2 hours a week you can actually find more than 2 people in the same zone. Some of the best content every ..


well .. i dont have a point so i'll shut up now.

Thu Jul 21 2011 8:31PM Report
Vaultar writes:

I really do empathise with u for the majority of the article and I am sure the majority feels the same way.

Until I got to this part.  "But from what I have seen, read and experienced lately, with the new titles that are soon to be unleashed, I can honestly say that in my opinion this genre is stagnating and is not getting better, or improving, or bringing something totally new to the table - it is, like this blog entry - going nowhere."

I understand it is ur opinion and totally respect that. However, have u seen the direction GW2 is taking? ArenaNet is pretty much innovating on all fronts with its upcoming title be it combat, dynamic events, instancing to tell story, breaking holy trinity, art department and cinematics, underwater combat and exploration etc etc

The best part is, these features and mechanics do not just sound well and good on paper. The media and many people that came to events like PAX East, PAX West and Comic-Con have tried the demo booths first hand and there is nothing but praises flowing from their experience with the game when they realise that all these features that sound so good on paper actually translate pretty much 1 to 1  when it comes to actually PLAYING the game.

ArenaNet is fulfilling on all their promises and that is very rare to see from mmo developers who strive to innovate on their mmo project in one way or the other.

I could have also used SW:TOR as an example, but in my opinion, GW2 shows far more promise in terms of innovation across all departments of an mmo game and is the best example to use for my argument. Ok ok, I will be honest and say that I've chosen GW2 also because this is the only game I am truly looking forward to.

To conclude, even though the mmo genre is currently stagnating, it will finally get the rejuvenation it needs with a few upcoming titles most notably GW2.

EDIT: I accidently posted this comment under "My thoughts on Catacalysm - Part 2" there any way to remove it from that section? >.<

Fri Jul 22 2011 11:48PM Report
just1opinion writes:

The only game you think is worth a rat's ass is EVE.  I think everyone knows that by now.  We all have "pet" games.  We have those because we all have different personalities and different styles of gaming that we enjoy.  I think EVE is a p.o.s. borefest with graphics that remind me of a screensaver. Seriously....mining got really really boring. It just wasn't the game for me. I'm sure you'd feel that way about my favorite game too.  So how about about we quit proclaiming the coming of the Game Messiah and we also quit proclaiming gloom and doom over all the world of gaming.'s just.....well.....dumb.  All the coming games will have a measure of success and maybe one of them will even become a loved and favorite game.  You can't know before their releases and if you think you DO....step back and chill the fuck out, because your OPINION is not the same as everyone elses' and maybe, just're wrong about one game?  OMG's possible there's a good one coming....if not for YOU....for someone ELSE.

Sun Jul 31 2011 4:29PM Report
Teala writes:

just1opinion, you're sadly wrong.  I do not think EVE is the best game, in fact EVE is far from it, and EVE catches my ire as much as any MMORPG.  

As for your little itrade that I might say something bad about an up coming game...welcome to my blog, I do not give games a free pass.   If I think a game has issues I am going to say as much.   That goes for any and all games.     No game is perfect and some games that claim to be the next best greatest things are just blowing smoke up players nether regions.    I can think of one game right now that is doing just that and I can tell you from experience - it is not all it is cracked up to be.   But hey, do not let me stop you from wasting money, be my guest, spend as much as you like - just remember I'll be watching the forums when you start posting how you feel as though you were ripped off - again.

Sun Jul 31 2011 8:49PM Report
Xondar123 writes:

Teala dislikes TOR (anyone surprised there? She's been bashing it from the start, looks like confirmation bias to me,) and likes Incarna for EVE (again, anyone surprised?)


I can think of two possibilities: Teala is burnt out on MMOs, if so, maybe stop playing/writing about them and do something else for a while? Or Teala has a problem with looking at things the same way all the time, she sees nothing new because to her it all looks the same.

Tue Aug 02 2011 7:03PM Report
Excession writes:

I get the same impression as a couple of the people commenting to be honest.

The problem isnt really with MMO's, but with Teala.

Are some MMO's better than others? of course they are in my opinion, but it is just that, my opinion, which is no more or less valid than anyone else's.

Part of the problem with your blog is you feel your opinion carries weight, and people have to listen to it, but it does not and they do not, who cares if you feel a certain MMO is not as good as the hype claims, another person might actually feel it is the best thing to happen to the genre.

If you really feel how you claim to in your blog, fine, but instead of moaning, do something about it, quit playing MMO's, stop blogging, find something else to do that is fun for you.

Wed Aug 03 2011 3:36PM Report
claratroddy writes:

Such a this information is really creative an very helpful for me... so thanks for the sharing...

Thu Aug 25 2011 7:26AM Report
AutemOx writes:

I agree with this article and share a similar annoyance with developers who are unwilling to take a substaintial risk.  They feel that it is better to take something that already exists and works, recreate it, and attempt to tack on a couple differences (whether it be rift events or voice overs).

Playing it safe creates something not worth my time.  It might be worth some peoples time on this website...  But I am not going to waste my time on something that I have already essentially played before and offers me no depth.

Thanks for not playing it safe in your writing of this article, but instead laying it all out for us to see.

Tue Oct 11 2011 7:59PM Report
Deddmeat writes:

It's a shame games are basically blue printing wow these days, I still give them a try, beta them to help wth bugs etc (hoping they remove them .. lol) .. but they never hold me.

Games started going downhill after EQ was released and UO then started to split pvp/pve

Having the risk of getting jumped by someone meant you'd try to move about with others, encouraged team work etc .. as soon as games then split pvp/pve .. people started to solo more and more and play a game that before was more a multi-player game as a single-player with chat box.

If you read mmo forum's you'd know how it goes, arguments for content between end game, pvp, pve and solo .. 

Usually with comments saying the early levels (about the first quarter judging by posts) not worth touching.

Fri Dec 23 2011 6:13AM Report
Ataaka writes:

I agree.

I know exactly how you feel. As I trolled the replies, the one word that kills MMO's is PVP. It simply needs to be sidelined against the mainstream of the game.

I challange anyone to show me where the acronym PVP occurs in the content of any of the great games of today? It's only a niche that  has outgrown it's audience.

Let's get back to the Western Culture of ''s keeper.."

Fri Mar 23 2012 3:32AM Report writes:
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